The time has come: It is truly, unmistakably, most dismally, winter. The holidays have past, the sun is sparse, and the few warmer days we do have are just a cruel set up for impending blizzards. (That's right Michigan, after 20 years I've figured you out).
It would be a great time for a California vacation, except that as I figure it, it would cost the entire contents of my checking account to get there.
However, for about $18 in travel expenses you can can still spend the afternoon tasting wine.
Though it's easy to overlook, Ontario is just right over there, and they have their very own guaranteed vintacultural region (like Italy's DOCG in theory). In a little over an hour, you can make it to Lake Erie's north shore region, which is packed full of wineries willing to give a free taste on a Sunday afternoon. The official winery route map shows six, and we stopped at least one that wasn't on the map. There are little grape signs everywhere once you get down there.
upside down AND highlight your route.
No, not all the wine was amazing. Quite a bit of it was watery. (I'm willing to attribute this to the relatively cold growing season) But the merlot-cab at Colchester Ridge was excellent, and the Mastronardi cab franc was quite nice too. And, Windsor has quite a few nice restaurants that are remarkably cheap (we have been particularly impressed with Mezzo, though we researched quite a few others that looked nice-- they just didn't serve lunch.)
In short, it was a satisfying Sunday. We drove back to Windsor along the river as the sun was setting, and as it grow colder outside we relaxed in to the front seats and didn't even have to look at each other to know that this was good. When we got home, we fell asleep on the couch in a heap, waking up just in time for a round of scrabble before bed--
And if that's not vacation, I don't know what is.